History

Martin Luther

Biography of Martin Luther
Artist: Lucas Cranach the Elder / Public Domain

Martin Luther Biography

Martin Luder, better known as Martin Luther, was born in Eisleben, Germany, on November 10, 1483, and died in the same town on February 18, 1546. He was a German theologian who revolutionized the way in which society was constituted regarding the Catholic Church. Thanks to his thought, the Protestant Reformation and the translation of the Bible took place in languages ​​other than Latin, Greek or Hebrew.

His parents were Hans and Margarethe Luder, who sent him to Mansfeld a year after his birth because his father ran some copper mines in the region. Hans, wanting his son to occupy some important political position, sent Martin to different schools in Mansfeld, Eisenach, and Magdeburg. Already in 1501, Martin entered the University of Erfurt being 18 years old, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree.

Eager to be the public figure his father wanted, Martin entered the Faculty of Law in Erfurt, but an event would radically change his life. In 1505, he was concerned by a dream in which he saw himself dying in a thunderstorm. So he made a deal begging Saint Anne that if she saved him he would become a monk. As he managed to escape unharmed, Martin got rid of his law books and entered the Augustinian monastery of Erfurt on July 17th of that same year.

In the beginning, Martin Luther was very rigid with himself, as he performed fasting, flogging, pilgrimage, prayer and confessing in a way that worried his superiors. This is why one of them, Johann von Staupitz, ordered Luther to conduct an academic career. Thus, in 1507 Martin Luther was already a priest, and the following year Professor of Theology at the University of Wittenberg. In 1508, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies and in 1512 he obtained the title of Doctor in Bible. Thanks to this, he served as vicar in 1515, with eleven monasteries under his charge. At this time, Luther deepened his knowledge of the Bible, which made him discover that the Church of his time had several flaws.

The main flaw Luther discovered was the sale of indulgences, by means of which the persons, or the dead relatives of these, obtained the absolution of their sins by paying some money. This went against the sacraments of repentance and confession with which the forgiveness of God was achieved, and which were practiced from the teachings of the Bible. Angered by this, Martin Luther gave three sermons against indulgences in the Palace Church and later, on October 31, 1517, he nailed on the door of this same church in Wittenberg his famous 95 theses, which condemned various policies of the Catholic Church. Thanks to the printing press, Luther’s theses were disseminated throughout Germany in just two weeks, and for two months were already known throughout Europe, giving rise to the Protestant Reformation.

«What is God for Christians? A great castle, a powerful shield, a good weapon.” Martin Luther

After this, Pope Leo X at first disqualified Martin Luther treating him as drunk, until the debate that was generated at the time took on such force that he was forced to take more drastic measures, such as declaring him a heretic. Because he could be in danger, Franz von Sickingen and Silvestre de Schauenburg invited him to his fortress. By 1520, Luther had already extended his speech attacking Pope Leo X by calling him directly Antichrist. He also gave his opinion on baptism, penance and the organization of the Church. Because of this, and not to retract his words, the Pope excommunicated Luther on January 3, 1521. That same year, the Imperial Diet of Worms was held, in which Luther was called to reaffirm or renounce his support what he had written.

Luther appeared on April 16th before the Diet to ask time to think, and the next day he confessed that he did not retract anything. Given this, the Emperor Charles V prohibited the works of Luther and declared him as a heretic and fugitive. After this, Luther disappeared while returning to Wittenberg to go to the castle of Wartburg, where he changed his name, appearance, continued his work and began the translation of the New Testament into German.

“The faculty of the ear is a sensible thing: very soon it is satiated and soon it gets tired and bored.”  Martin Luther

Later, Martin Luther married in 1525 with Catherine de Bora, one of the twelve nuns whom he had helped to escape from the Cistercian monastery of Nimbschen. At this time, the working class rebelled against the nobility using Luther’s texts as a guide, although misinterpreting them. Since Luther was under the protection of nobles, he did not support the workers, and these were finally massacred by the forces of Philip I of Hesse. Later, in 1534, the Bible appeared translated into German by Luther, with the collaboration of Jonas, Creuziger, Melanchthon, Aurogallus, Rörer, and Bugenhagen. This was done so that the people had access to the Holy Scriptures and did not depend on the interpretation of the priests. Finally, Luther traveled with his three sons to Mansfeld, where his brothers continued to work in the copper mines. The reason for the trip was to conduct a negotiation on the exploitation of the area, which came to fruition. Then he traveled to Eisleben, where he died on February 18, 1546, after suffering chest pains due to angina.

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